An expert for the state of Massachusetts says disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 92, is not competent to participate in a criminal trial on charges of child sexual abuse, a judge said Thursday. A defense expert made the same assessment in February.
McCarrick, who led the Washington archdiocese from 2001 to 2006, was one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s star clerics until 2018, when sexual misconduct accusations began surfacing.
McCarrick faces three counts of indecent assault and battery, based on allegations that he molested a then-16-year-old family friend at a wedding reception in 1974. The possibility that McCarrick could evade a criminal trial is upsetting to the plaintiff in the case, the accuser’s lawyer said Thursday.
“My client, a courageous clergy sexual abuse victim, is obviously disappointed that the expert has concluded that former Cardinal McCarrick is incompetent to stand trial. But my client remains determined to continue with the civil lawsuits” he has filed in New Jersey and New York, Mitchell Garabedian said in a statement. “By proceeding with the civil lawsuits my client is empowering himself, other clergy sexual abuse victims and making the world a safer place for children.”
Garabedian said he didn’t think the incompetency assessments would prevent the civil cases from proceeding.
The final decision rests with Judge Michael J. Pomarole. On Thursday, he set a date of Aug. 30 for a hearing on the available reports, Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a statement.
McCarrick faces a criminal sexual assault charge in Wisconsin involving the same accuser. Wisconsin prosecutors in April charged McCarrick with one count of fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor, for allegedly fondling an 18-year-old without consent in 1977.
In February, attorneys for McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019 and lives in Missouri, filed a motion to dismiss, saying he could no longer sufficiently participate in his own defense. In that motion, the lawyers said that he has “significant, worsening and irreversible dementia” and that, thus, his constitutional rights would be violated if a trial went ahead.
The state then said it wanted to hire their own expert, and that expert flew to Missouri to conduct the evaluation, the Norfolk news release said.
The report itself was not made public.
Fourteen minors and at least eight adults — clergy and seminarians — have accused the former D.C. archbishop of sexual misconduct, according to the abuse-tallying site BishopAccountability.org. The allegations were first widely reported on in 2018, shocking the church. But because of statutes of limitation for alleged incidents, it was long assumed that McCarrick would never be criminally charged. The Massachusetts and Wisconsin cases were able to be prosecuted because, in accordance with the states’ laws, the statute of limitations was put on hold after McCarrick left the states decades ago.
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